Reigning champions the Golden State Warriors will lock horns again with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals after outlasting the Houston Rockets in game seven on Monday.
The Rockets once again started hot and then collapsed, as Stephen Curry and Warriors rallied to win the Western Conference finals decider 101-92 in Houston.
Golden State secured their fourth successive NBA Finals appearance against the same opposition – LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Houston – without injured star Chris Paul – came out on fire in the first half, just as they did in game six. They built a 17-point lead in that game before losing by 29. Monday, they shot out to a 15-point advantage before going to the locker room up 54-43.
And once again, it all fell apart, this time in epic terms. At one point, the Rockets missed an NBA playoff-record 27 consecutive three-pointers, before P.J. Tucker hit one from the corner with just over six minutes remaining.
By then, the Warriors had already raced to a 13-point lead, seized the momentum and virtually silenced the Toyota Center crowd.
Curry, who scored only eight points in the first half, came alive in the second, finishing with 27 points, hitting seven-of-15 from three-point range.
“We locked in and showed how great we are,” Curry told TNT. “The third quarter we came out rejuvenated … and good things happened.”
The Warriors’ comeback was even more remarkable considering Klay Thompson played most of the game in foul trouble. He picked up his third foul roughly three minutes into the game, and his fourth early in the second half, but still finished with 19 points.
For the Rockets, the seven-of-44 shooting from three-point range said it all. Houston outhustled and outrebounded the Warriors early, but when a team built on knocking down the long ball cannot hit those shots, there will be a sad ending. James Harden led Houston with 32 points.
Kevin Durant was relatively quiet prior to Monday’s showdown but the Warriors star stepped up with a team-high 34 points, hitting five-of-11 shots from beyond the arc.
ARIZA ENDURES GAME TO FORGET
It does not seem fair to single out one Rocket for laying bricks from three-point territory, but Trevor Ariza did not have the touch in game seven, missing all 12 of his attempts.
CURRY SILENCES HOUSTON
Curry stunned the Rockets in the second half from outside the arc with shots like this.
Steph Curry stops and launches the 3-ball!#DubNation pic.twitter.com/tjmyDieYxh
— NBA (@NBA) May 29, 2018
CAVALIERS AT WARRIORS
Welcome to round four. The Warriors won the first meeting, the Cavs the next, and the Warriors are the defending NBA champions. Get ready for Thursday’s 2018 opener.